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to 115 cardinals, and one of these men from 48 different countries will almost certainly be the new pope. ♪ calling on the saints of its past, the cardinals processed to the sistine chapel to choose a leader to the church's future. ♪ he will have to confront a litany of problems, an ineffective and corrupt bureaucracy, declining church attendance in the western world, and priest sex abuse. the u.s. cardinals got an enthusiastic sendoff from the enthusiastic sendoff from the american seminarians studying here in rome. along with the other electors, they are in complete isolation. electronic jamming devices preventing any communication or eavesdropping. in st. peter's square, the curious endured a cold rain to watch the cardinals take oaths
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of secrecy. [ speaking latin ] >> reporter: the doors were locked, and the crowds which got even bigger looked to the chapel's chimney. two hours later, the world saw there was no decision made under the famous fresco. it took michelangelo four years to complete his masterpiece, the ceiling of the sistine chapel. let's hope the cardinals get their work done in a shorter timespan. in the last century, only one conclave took five days in 1922. all the others have been shorter. the most recent, benedict, took two days and four ballots. and attention-grabbing event, but it take more to win back those who have lost faith in the church. >> these huge moments of global church are interesting and exciting. but if somebody's really going to connect with their faith, i think more than ever, it's going to be a local community of faith that welcomes them regardless of what's going on around the world around them. >> reporter: now, after dinner
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and much discussion tonight, the cardinals will resume voting tomorrow, trying to find the man who can garner 77 votes to become pope. brian? >> anne thompson at the center of attention tonight, anne, thanks. there are over 1 billion catholics worldwide, somewhere between one in four, one in five americans, and this is a decidedly bad time for the catholic church. there are hopes among many that the new pope will signify a new direction. lester holt has been talking with some of those american catholics today at the vatican. lester, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. it's roughly 4,000 miles between vatican city and the nearest shores of the u.s. but for american catholics who often define themselves out of step with the church here, it can seem a lot farther. young american catholics on spring break in rome and witnessing their church in transition. and hopeful the new pope will take a broad view of a changing world. >> i feel like he needs to be someone who can really just be
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able to relate to the diversity and catholics around the world. >> reporter: the church in america is at a crossroads. the percentage of u.s. catholics has held steady at 25%. but it is largely on the strength of catholic immigrants, most of them hispanic, obscuring the fact that one out of every three americans who grew up in the church has left. >> i think that he needs to be more focused on today's youth, more trying to get more people back into the church, and i just think it takes a younger person to do that. >> reporter: abortion, the role of women, and attitudes about homosexuality have been at the heart of much of the disconnect between american catholics and the church. for example, in 2012, half of u.s. catholics expressed support for same-sex marriage, something the church strongly opposes. >> i think most american catholics are hoping for a pope who will be more opening to listening to the concerns of some of the people who feel alienated from the roman catholic church for a variety of reasons.
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>> reporter: the new pope will also confront dropping numbers in the priesthood. 58% of american catholics believe priests should be able to marry. and then there is a continuing damage from the priest sex abuse scandal. >> it would be a disaster if we had a pope who did not understand the sex abuse crisis. >> reporter: the fact that two u.s. cardinals are now regarded as strong candidates to become pope raise expectations among some of the faithful that disillusioned catholics might return to the fold. and as the church looks forward to a new chapter, another reminder back home of the priest sex abuse scandal. the archdiocese of los angeles today saying it will spend nearly $10 million to settle four clergy sex abuse cases, brian. >> lester holt, part of our team, our coverage from the vatican tonight. lester, thanks. topping our news back home, the nation's intelligence agencies told congress today that cyber attacks and espionage have now moved ahead of terrorism as the top threat
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americans now face, though they hasten to add no catastrophic attack is thought to be imminent. much of the concern involves china, as you may know, that nation's military has been accused of hacking attacks against a range of american industries. the pentagon's now forming more than a dozen different teams to guard this nation in cyberspace. computer attacks were in the news today on another front. the fbi and secret service among others are investigating some very high-profile cases of identity theft, something that millions of americans go through and can relate to. these latest cases purportedly involving first lady michelle obama, the vice president, among others. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams following that for us tonight from our d.c. newsroom. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. there's only so much we can all do to protect ourselves from identity theft, but this latest intrusion shows that even the most careful consumers can be vulnerable if data from an especially comprehensive website is not secure. the scene of the crime is this website apparently based in
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russia that posts some prominent names and their personal financial information. among the targets, the first lady, michelle obama, vice president biden, the fbi director and attorney general. among celebrities, mel gibson, ashton kutcher and jay-z. also the l.a. police chief, charlie beck. >> we will vigorously pursue the individuals that have made me a victim and have made a number of other people that are in the public eye victims. >> reporter: the website post what appear to be their social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers and in some cases what look like their actual credit reports where the other information appears to come from. >> the credit report is the key to everything. the bad guy has your credit report, he can commit almost any kind of identity theft. >> reporter: some of the data is the kind that can be bought online from commercially available websites. once a social security number and date of birth are known. among other victims, al gore, sarah palin, former secretary of state hillary clinton, and singer beyonce. the data company equifax says at
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least some of their stolen information appears to come from what it called fraudulent and unauthorized access to the website set up to let consumers see their own credit reports once a year for free. >> behind this website is data belonging to 200 million americans. so even if people never visit the website, someone can break in and access any one of their credit reports. >> reporter: the data thieves apparently knew enough about their targets to answer the personal questionsequired to get access to the credit reports. the experts recommend checking your credit report and credit card accounts to look for unusual activity, and they say never give out your social security number on the phone or online unless you're absolutely certain who is asking for it. brian? >> pete williams in our d.c. newsroom tonight. pete, thanks. another terrible day in afghanistan. five u.s. service members were killed when their black hawk went down last night in bad weather. officials say it appears to be an accident, not the result of
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any incoming enemy fire. as we reported here last night, two u.s. special forces troops were killed in an insider attack. both incidents resulting in the deadliest day for u.s. forces in this year. president obama made a rare daytime appearance at the u.s. capitol today. this time it was lunch with democrats after dinner with republicans last week. today's meeting, part of an effort to see if there's some way both sides can find some common ground on the budget. kelly o'donnell following it all for us all day on capitol hill. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. so why is this such a big deal? senate democrats say the president has not come to see them on their turf since 2009. and while there's some criticism that the personal diplomacy might be about media attention, democrats tell me they are happy for the face time. so after making a one-mile trip along pennsylvania avenue, president obama met with senate democrats at their weekly lunch and explained that he had met with republicans last week that had done no negotiating saying he wanted to air out some of the negativity with the gop before
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democrats unveiled their first budget in four years. that happens tomorrow. now, president obama was facing some pointed criticism from democrats over the drone program. they'd like more oversight. and the president will be back here tomorrow to meet with house republicans who rolled out their budget today. it balances in ten years. but to do that makes cuts in medicare and obamacare. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on the hill with all of it tonight. kelly, thanks. an arraignment today for the man charged with murdering a dozen people last summer at the movie theater in aurora, colorado. the judge entered a not guilty plea for james holmes after his lawyer said they weren't ready for the hearing. the judge said holmes could change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity at a later date. and if he does, prosecutors can use a truth serum to determine if holmes was legally insane during the attack. the trial was set for august. a lot of people noted how his appearance has changed since the first court appearance after the shooting. still ahead, health news on
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two fronts. important news about treating and detecting ovarian cancer. also a warning about z-packs. the antibiotics so popular people ask for them by name. and later, letters written by an ex-president to his family read by the men and women who cherish them and him so very much.
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topping our health news, stories again on two fronts today. first a warning about what can so often be a silent killer, ovarian cancer. it's one of the deadliest forms, specifically why doctors now say most women who are diagnosed are not receiving the right treatment. our report from our chief science correspondent, robert bazell. >> reporter: the study finds that of the 22,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, two out of three are not getting the best treatments. >> when we see ovarian cancer patients --
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>> reporter: dr. karen lu is an ovarian cancer specialist. >> it's disturbing. i think there are very clear guidelines for how these women need to be cared for. >> reporter: liz siegel was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. even though her cancer was found early, she underwent 7 1/2 hours of meticulous surgery. >> ovarian cancer has a very unique pattern of spread. it tends to spread throughout the abdominal cavity. >> reporter: of a study of more than 13,000 women found most did not get surgery. 2/3 of the surge fwoons perform fewer than ten such operations a year while specialized doctors perform hundreds. experts say that women often get substandard care because doctors can be reluctant to refer to the best specialists. and often insurance does not completely reimburse doctors for the long, complicated care. liz steagall had a friend who was treated by a general surgeon. >> she has since passed away. and we did have the same -- you know, the same diagnosis, same
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level one fee. and i remember talking to her and her saying that she -- it wasn't treated as aggressively as what i -- what mine was treated. >> reporter: experts say that all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer should be demand to be treated by experienced doctors. while the medical profession needs to do its part to make that happen. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. and with us to talk about another story in health news today is our chief medical officer here at nbc universal, dr. tanya benenson. this has to do with this has to do with zithromycin, known as z-packs. people come in and ask for it 50 million times a year. why is it in the news today? >> we heard last year it was related to cardiovascular death. upon further review, now we know that it actually can lead to abnormal electrical activity which can then lead to a fatal heart rhythm. it hadn't been linked before. doctors sort of knew this was
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part of that class of medication, but now it's directly linked which is very common. so the reason why it's in the news is the fda is alerting patients, the public, that this isn't just, you know, a vitamin that they can pop. this is really important and they're actually going to include it on the drug label. >> and so physicians will be warned as well to perhaps steer people away to something else. dr. tanya benenson, thanks for stopping by. we're back in a moment with a rising star in a political family dynasty who just threw his hat in the ring.
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as we reported a few weeks back, the pentagon has minted a new medal to give to members of the military not for direct combat action but something called the distinguished warfare medal for drone operators and the like. some vets, some in congress don't feel it should rank above any decoration for combat. production of this medal has been halted while defense secretary hagel considers it.
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they've studied the evidence, and the folks who run the mars rover curiosity say based on a rock sample it has already examined, mars contains all the key ingredients needed to sustain life. they believe it did, indeed, sustain primitive life. one scientist said today the environment is so favorable, the water on mars would have been drinkable for humans. mississippi lawmakers say they don't want to be like mike. they have passed and sent to the governor a so-called anti-bloomberg bill that won't allow any municipalities to act as so-called food police. if the governor signs it, no one at the local level in mississippi will be allowed to control portion size, calorie counts or take the toys out of kids' meals. critics point out the cdc ranks mississippi number one in the nation in obesity. another sinkhole in the news. this one swallowed up a guy on the golf course in waterloo, illinois. out of nowhere on a fairway as you see of parched grass, it
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took him 18 feet down. he was rescued with a rope and suffered a dislocated shoulder. and prepare for the possibility of another bush in politics. george p. bush, that's son of jeb, nephew of george w., grandson of george h.w., is in the running for texas land commissioner. it's his first run for elective office. he's 36 now. but a lot of americans got their first real glimpse of him when he led the pledge at the '88 gop convention. when we come back, george p.'s grandfather, a genuine man of letters, has released his letters. we get to hear them tonight.
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finally tonight, he is 88 years old, still going, and that means former president george h.w. bush 41 is still writing notes and letters. he has always said it's the way he was raised. it's the right and polite thing to do. many of his letters are in an updated version of all the best, a collection of his correspondence over the years to family and friends and colleagues.
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well, his granddaughter, nbc's jenna bush hager, recently asked some of them to read those letters. tonight we hear from them and from the former president himself. >> december 12th, 1943. my darling bar. >> my grandfather has always been a lover of words, a poetic letter writer. >> i love you, precious, with all my heart, and to know that you love me means my life. >> reporter: from letters penned during his time overseas in world war ii to political memos to royalty and heads of state, to maybe the most telling, declarations of love to his grandchildren like my sister, barbara, and cousin, lauren. >> i'm a very happy gampy. my legs don't bend too well. as you know, i have had to give up fly fishing off the rocks, but there's plenty left to do, plenty of wonderful things. >> i think of all of you an awful lot. i just wonder how each of you is doing. if you need me, i am here for you because i love you very much. >> reporter: he was there for his children, too. in letters of support during
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difficult times. >> dear george. your decision just made is the toughest decision you've had to make up until now. but you made it with strength and with compassion. >> reporter: he often closed his letters honoring his young daughter, robin, who died from cancer. >> remember robin's words. i love you more than time can tell. well, i do. >> reporter: and writing was an outlet for admiration. documenting an unlikely friendship. >> this note is simply to let you know that i so appreciated your words about our relationship, about our friendship. it was from your heart. i hope you know i feel the same way. >> reporter: but his favorite subject has been the same since 1945. >> here we are 42 years later, and i'm a very happy guy. the luckiest in the world, actually. i have a skinny, mild-walking wife. >> reporter: it is no secret
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that at 88, my grandfather's faced health issues, but he's stronger and back at texas a&m, the school he loves, where students are honoring him with a different, more modern use of words. a flash mob. zpl of all the flash mobs i've ever seen, it was the best. >> it was the best? >> yes, the very best. >> was it the only one you've ever seen? >> yes. >> you look pretty good, gamps. are you feeling good? >> i feel like a million books. i really do. >> reporter: letters documenting history and a lifetime of loving relationships that like him will be cherished always. >> all the best, george bush. >> reporter: jenna bush hager, nbc news, college station, texas. >> thanks to all our guest letter readers including the former president himself. that is our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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now. good evening and thanks for joining us. i janelle wang in for jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. he was locked in jail for 14 years and forced to register as a sex offender. tonight he is speaking freely about his time behind bars. what he has to say is surprising to many people. kris sanchez joins us at the offices of the innocence project which was instrumental at getting this man out of jail.
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>> reporter: williajohnny willis 23 years old when he was accused of a haning crime against a child. he went to prison for 14 years before he was freed. you might assume that makes for a bitter and angry man he says he is anything but. are you happy? that is the question we asked 37-year-old johnny williams more than once because we could not believe his answer. >> i'm happy. i'm truly happy. >> reporter: he was a convicted sexual predator found guilty of sexual assaulting a 9-year-old girl. he is a man vindicated. the innocence project took on his case and found that girl the dna evidence proves this johnny could not have been her attacker. >> it wasn't the flawed procedure. it wasn't the identification we often see. this was a mistake as far as we
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can tell from all the documentation. but the dna in the case on the little girl's t shirt conclusively excludes johnny. >> reporter: he was granted probation after serving 14 years and registering as a sex offender. he says he is not bitter and all he wants now is education, a job and to leave his past behind. >> it is a positive streak. i want my road to be positive. i don't want to go back as far as negativity. >> reporter: he says his innocence kept him positive. he wrote to the innocence project in 2006 and waited with the near 9,800 people asked for help. he is one of the 531 people who made it through the investigation phase. he is one of the 78 cases that are active and now among the 16 people cleared by the innocence project. johnny williams says he is full of

NBC Nightly News
NBC March 12, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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TOPIC FREQUENCY U.s. 9, Nbc 3, Texas 3, Pete Williams 2, Michelle Obama 2, Johnny Williams 2, Robert Bazell 2, Cardinals 2, Kelly O'donnell 2, Holmes 2, Dr. Tanya Benenson 2, Fbi 2, Lester Holt 2, Rome 2, Equifax 1, Raj Mathai 1, The Data 1, Al Gore 1, Vatican 1, Vatican City 1
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